Williams routs Cirstea to reach final

Posted on July 16, 2012

STANFORD, CALIFORNIA -- Top-seeded and defending champion Serena Williams destroyed Sorana Cirstea 6-1, 6-2 in one hour yesterday to reach her second straight final at the WTA hardcourt tournament at Stanford.

Serena Williams returns a shot to Sorana Cirstea of Romania during the semifinals of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford University Taube Family Tennis Stadium on July 14 in Stanford, California. -- AFP

The first all-American final on US soil since 2004 will feature Williams against Californian Coco Vandeweghe, a lucky loser from qualifying who defeated fifth seed Yanina Wickmayer 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 to reach the first WTA final of her career.

Vandeweghe got into the main draw after a withdrawal and made the most of her opportunity, beating former world number one Jelena Jankovic in the second round.

Williams had a poor first serve percentage of 37% but did not waste time in crushing Cirstea to reach her second final in a week after winning Wimbledon seven days ago.

The Romanian was saddled with 31 unforced errors and got only one break point chance against Williams.

The 30-year-old Williams is poised to join sister Venus on 43 career trophies if she can win another title against her 120th-ranked opponent.

Williams played this week fighting jet-lag after flying over directly from Wimbledon eight time zones away.

“This week was weird,” said the 14-time grand slam champion.

“I felt like I wasn’t there for about half of it, but here it is, Sunday and another final.”

Williams finished on her second match point after Cirstea saved a first winning chance a game earlier.

“It took me a while to figure out her game,” Williams said. “I had to wait her out. She hits really hard, but I did well.”

Vandeweghe, 21, and coached this week by her mother, will rise to around 75th as a result of her success here, according to the WTA Tour.

She hammered a dozen aces and broke Wickmayer four times in the match which lasted just over two hours.

At one tense moment Wickmayer drew a warning for swearing.

Vandeweghe said she was furious with herself when she crashed out of qualifying.

“I had a bad tennis day and paid for it,” she said. “But once I got into the main draw, I took advantage of my opportunities.

“I stuck with my game plan, I served big and returned well this week. When my game comes together like that I can play well from the baseline.

“I’m just so excited to be in the final.”

Vandeweghe’s surprise showing last week by far surpassed her previous career bests: quarter-final appearances in her native San Diego and Tokyo two years ago and at Memphis in 2011.

She was the second lucky loser to advance to the WTA semis this season after France’s Mathilde Johansson in Fes, Morocco. The last one to reach a final was Hungarian Melinda Czink at Canberra five years ago.

The last all-American WTA final occurred eight years ago when Serena played her sister Venus at the yearend WTA Championships.

The top seed will have the massive experience edge when she takes on Vandeweghe. -- AFP